All posts by Paul J. McAndrew, Jr.

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Truckers Fired Over Workers’ Comp Claim: What to Do Next

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Truck drivers have a remedy if fired for making a workers’ compensation claim.

A recent award of over $100,000 to a truck driver who was fired for making a workers’ compensation claim illustrated the protection drivers have under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA). New Prime of Springfield, Mo., had to pay the former employee lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages. “The company must also expunge the complainant’s employment and DAC Report records of any reference to his unlawful termination,” according to the article above. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is often criticized for a variety of reasons, enforced anti-retaliation laws that protect truck drivers who are unfairly punished for taking steps to protect their health and financial welfare. These laws can also be enforced through lawsuits as an alternative to the OSHA administrative process. 

Truck drivers need to be aware of this protection. Truck drivers also need to know that OSHA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have just announced an agreement to strengthen protections for transportation workers from coercion and retaliation.   

The industry publication FleetOwner gives more details about how OSHA and the FMCSA interact with the STAA in this article.   

Here is one helpful quote from the FleetOwner article:

“If OSHA finds that a complaint is valid, it can order the employer to reinstate the worker; pay back pay, interest and compensatory damages; pay punitive damages up to $250,000 where warranted; and/or take other remedial actions.”

In addition, “action by one agency didn’t preclude action by another in the same situation” when it comes to the STAA.

“OSHA’s mandate is protecting workers, while FMCSA’s mandate is safety, (an FMCSA document) said. And FMCSA can take action against a carrier or other entity but, unlike OSHA, it can’t compensate a driver. So a driver filing a complaint with FMCSA about coercion might be able to file a whistleblower protection complaint with OSHA and vice versa, FMCSA said.”

The recent award and very recent press release from OSHA are great news for truckers and their families. The laws that protect you work. There is an apparently serious effort to make them work better. It will now be easier to protect your health and welfare if you are injured on the job.

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Don’t Demean FMLA Leave

Today’s post comes from guest author Charlie Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

Workers do not have many rights.  It’s an unfortunate mantra I recite to many of my injured worker clients.  Of course, union protections exist in certain settings.  Protections against discrimination and harassment exist if unlawful conduct occurs.  However, in most circumstances, Wisconsin employees are “at will” employment–meaning they can be fired for any reason or no reason at all.

An “at-will” employee who is forced to miss work for their own serious health condition (or for a child’s health condition) can face a difficult situation.  Missing work can put their employment status in jeopardy.   In these situations, the protections provided by the federal and state Family and Medical Act are crucial.  While FMLA leave only applies to certain employment settings (generally those with over 50 employees), the FMLA can provide job protection for a certain amount of unpaid weeks while an individual is out of work.

Given this invaluble security, a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel caused me concern (“Agency scrutinizes family medical leave in Milwaukee County“).  The article raised questions about the amount of Milwaukee County workers using FMLA leave.  The article certainly paints this type of leave in a negative light, even suggesting the potential “abuse” of this FMLA leave by employees.

 FMLA leave is unpaid leave.  Unless an employee has other available/accrued leave benefits, when they are off on FMLA leave, the employer is not paying wages.  The employee is off work, not getting paid.  Thus, FMLA provides some job protection for the employee, but the employee is not getting rich being off work.  I find it questionable that many employees are abusing a benefit that does not pay them anything.  Demeaning the FMLA is concerning.

 

 

 

 

Sedgwick County judge dismisses toddler death lawsuit

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from cjonline.com

WICHITA — A Sedgwick County judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing a state agency of failing to protect a toddler before she was killed.

Sedgwick County District Judge William Woolley said in his ruling that Kansas law “does not impose on child welfare agencies an independent duty” in the investigation of child abuse. And because there is no duty, or legal obligation, there can be no claim of negligence against the state child-protection agency, the judge wrote.

Woolley’s ruling last week was in response to a lawsuit brought after the death of 18-month-old Jayla Haag, who died in 2012 with injuries that included brain swelling, bleeding around her eyes and teeth that had been forcibly removed. The lawsuit, brought on behalf of the child’s father, claimed DCF was told Jayla was being abused and did nothing to protect her.

The state had sought the dismissal of the lawsuit.

DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said in a statement Friday that the agency appreciates the judge’s “careful consideration of this case,” The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/UvEhBe).

“Any death of a child is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to those mourning the loss of a child. DCF takes seriously its responsibility to protect children,” Freed said.

Jayla was living with her mother, Alyssa Haag, and her mother’s boyfriend in El Dorado at the time of her death. Alyssa Haag, 24, was sentenced for involuntary manslaughter-reckless and is serving…

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California schools face lawsuit over physical education classes

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.latimes.com

P.E. lawsuit
P.E. lawsuit

Thousands of elementary school teachers have been asked this summer to hold on to their lesson plans as 37 school districts throughout the state seek to show that they are providing students with required exercise.

A lawsuit was filed in October in San Francisco County Superior Court on behalf of plaintiffs Marc Babin, a parent, and Cal200, an organization he heads that advocates for elementary school physical education. Babin’s children, now adults, went to school in the Alameda Unified School District, one of the defending districts, according to his Albany, Calif., attorney, Donald Driscoll.

"School districts have been routinely ignoring the law," Driscoll said. And the Los Angeles Unified School District, the state’s largest, "has been a particular offender. They give lip service to the idea that P.E. is important. That just plain doesn’t work. What that produces is kids who don’t get enough exercise."

L.A. Unified, along with Palm Springs Unified and others, have asked teachers to show that they are meeting state requirements for physical education. The lesson plans typically outline schedules for instruction, activities and classes.

New database details pay of California public school employees
New database details pay of California public school employees

In addition to lunch and recess, schools must offer kindergarten through sixth-grade students 200 minutes of physical education instruction for every 10 days of class, as required in the state Education Code.

The teacher records could be compared to…

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Fear of Ebola Breeds a Terror of Physicians

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nytimes.com

Healthcare professional face serious and fatal virus infections overseas. The conditions contrated within the course of thier employment may be deemed compensble under the Workers’ Compensation even though they extra-jurisdiction exposures. Today’s post is share from nytimes.com

Eight youths, some armed with slingshots and machetes, stood warily alongside a rutted dirt road at an opening in the high reeds, the path to the village of Kolo Bengou. The deadly Ebola virus is believed to have infected several people in the village, and the youths were blocking the path to prevent health workers from entering.

“We don’t want any visitors,” said their leader, Faya Iroundouno, 17, president of Kolo Bengou’s youth league. “We don’t want any contact with anyone.” The others nodded in agreement and fiddled with their slingshots.

Singling out the international aid group Doctors Without Borders, Mr. Iroundouno continued, “Wherever those people have passed, the communities have been hit by illness.”

Health workers here say they are now battling two enemies: the unprecedented Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 660 people in four countries since it was first detected in March, and fear, which has produced growing hostility toward outside help. On Friday alone, health authorities in Guinea confirmed 14 new cases of the disease.

Workers and officials, blamed by panicked populations for spreading the virus, have been…

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Former Millville student contracted herpes after relationship with teacher, lawsuit states

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.nj.com

Michael S. Drebes 

MILLVILLE — A former high school student filed a lawsuit against the Millville Board of Education earlier this month for not properly supervising a teacher who conducted an inappropriate and illegal sexual relationship with her, according to the lawsuit.

Meagan Jones, 20, the former student, also named Michael S. Drebes, 42, her former math teacher that she was in a sexual relationship with, in the lawsuit for mental and physical injuries — including contracting herpes from Drebes.

In addition, the lawsuit, which was filed on July 3 with Cumberland County Superior Court, names former principal Albert B. Johnson and student assistance counsel Steven Megonigal as defendants.

She requests $450,000 in damages for "various and diverse physical and mental injuries," including anxiety and medical expenses in excess of $3,600, the lawsuit states.

Jones was 14 at the time and a ninth-grade student at Millville Memorial High School when Drebes began pursing a sexual relationship with her, according to the lawsuit.

The relationship lasted from February 2009 until shortly before his arrest in June 2009.

The Millville Board of Education, Johnson and Megonigal are named as defendants, according to the lawsuit, for negligence in hiring Drebes, failure to investigate the relationship, failure to supervise Drebes and failure to enforce written policies on electronic communication between teachers and students.

"I can’t comment on…

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Alabama man had penis mistakenly amputated during circumcision: lawsuit

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.nydailynews.com

The Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama was the scene of the alleged botched operation.
The Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama was the scene of the alleged botched operation.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An Alabama man who went into surgery for what was supposed to be a routine circumcision filed a lawsuit contending doctors mistakenly amputated his penis, but a hospital said Thursday the claims were without merit.

The lawsuit, filed in state court on Tuesday, says Johnny Lee Banks Jr. went to Princeton Baptist Medical Center last month for a circumcision that went horribly wrong.

Banks’ penis was gone when he awoke after surgery, according to the suit, yet no one ever warned that amputation could result from the procedure.

Banks and his wife, Zelda Banks, are seeking an unspecified amount of money in the complaint. The suit accuses the defendants of medical malpractice, negligence and other wrongdoing.

A statement released by hospital spokeswoman Kate Darden said the allegations lacked merit.

“We intend to defend all counts aggressively,” said the statement from Baptist Health System Inc., which operates the hospital in Birmingham. The hospital declined further comment.

The suit also names Urology Centers of Alabama and Dr. Vincent Michael Bivins, who works there; and Simon-Williamson Clinic and Dr. Alan C. Aikens, who works at the clinic.

Representatives from neither business nor the doctors returned messages seeking comment.

Bivins was treating Banks for conditions that led to the circumcision, the suit says, and Aikens was…

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Report: Number Of Ground Zero Cancer Cases Skyrocketing

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from newyork.cbslocal.com

Firefighters make their way through rubble and debris after the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. (Credit: Getty Images)
Firefighters make their way through rubble and debris after the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. (Credit: Getty Images)

Firefighters make their way through rubble and debris after the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. (Credit: Getty Images)

CBS New York (con’t)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSNewYork.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSNewYork.com/Health

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There has been a dramatic increase in the number of 9/11 rescuers and responders with cancer in the past year, according to a published report.

The New York Post says that Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program reported 1,140 cancer cases last year. Now the number is up to more than 2,500.

1339505 8 Report: Number Of Ground Zero Cancer Cases Skyrocketing
Report: Number Of Ground Zero Cancer Cases Skyrocketing

Among the cancers being diagnosed at a much higher rate than the general population: prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is expected to receive more claims by the Oct. 14 deadline. So far, there are 1,145 claims listing cancer.

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